Customer Service Excellence is not just about our Customer Service people or our Sales staff, though these front line employees are critical. It involves creating a culture and a leadership structure that will empower, nurture and motivate all our people to deliver that ‘want to stay’ Customer Experience.
Customers are the judges of any organisation, and they vote with their money, or their feet. They judge the Company based on their cumulative experiences of the product, the service and the people. For example, they may evaluate the quality of the product, or its value for money. But they will also notice the car park and the ease of access, or the cleanliness of your display area. They will certainly notice the responsiveness of your staff, their courtesy and helpfulness. They will even judge your Company on the way your staff talk to each other, and relate to your Manager. It all counts!
Leadership Leads the Way
Everyone in an organisation takes their lead from the top. The Leadership are role models; they model the attitudes, values and behaviours that their staff will adopt. If the Leadership walks the talk, praises and recognises ‘going the extra mile’ for the Customer, the Customer Service Teams will feel more positive and confident in doing the same. If the Leadership demonstrate irritation or annoyance about Customers, or worse still, treats them as irrelevant to the Company, this will be reflected in the front line Teams.
What Management measure is also vital. What gets measured gets done also still stands, and Leadership needs to be measuring the right things. Think of the shop attendant who does not make eye contact, finishes stacking shelves before serving, or puts the money down on the counter instead of in to your hand. The Manager of that shop attendant is almost certainly measuring efficiency and might say he or she was being more efficient, handling more Customers in a much quicker way.
The Manager ought to be recognising that this attendant is efficiently and effectively sending Customers to the opposition!
Effective Leadership Processes and Measures
An effective Leadership will have processes to discuss, monitor and measure Best Practice with Customers. They will have project Teams seeking to find that extra 10%, that extra positive experience for their Customers. They will use tools, like mapping the Customer’s Journey through the Company, to generate ideas at each contact point – always seeking the opportunity to make life easier or more pleasant for the Customer. Quality and process improvement is top of their agenda, and they give quick recognition to employees who demonstrate valuable improvements.
Customer Service Training – Small Investment with Big Pay-off
Companies often assume that investment in Customer Service Skills Training is a waste of money! It is unfortunate that these Companies do not ask their former Customers for their view! Everyone can give examples of ‘bad’ Customer experiences that would amaze the Company Leadership. Effective delivery of Customer Service Excellence will keep Customers, and generate profits – and Training plays a key part in achieving this.
Customer Service Excellence is about processes, knowledge and behaviours. Good Customer Service Training should address each of these 3 elements, whether this is internal or external training.
Above all, training adjusts the priorities and aligns the focus of all personnel, whether Customer Service, Sales, Administration or Managers. It helps all to have a pinpoint clear focus on what they want to achieve with each Customer. They align to their shared purpose of keeping Customers coming back, and they learn the importance of their role in ensuring Company success.
Focus drives attitude and behaviours throughout the Organisation. Managers will be much more aware of desired attitudes and behaviours, and therefore will be much more likely to praise them. The Customer Care Teams will heighten their awareness to core skills and techniques with their Customers, as well as positive actions that will deliver Customer Service Excellence. Interest, support and encouragement from management will motivate them to want to perform well with their Customers. Everyone in the organisation will be singing off the same page.
Continuous Improvement and Best Practice
Customer Service Excellence is about managing, meeting and exceeding expectations. Customer Expectations are constantly changing, the bar is forever being raised. This means that Teams at all levels in the Company must respond to this by continuously seeking to identify opportunities to ‘exceed’.
Teamwork sessions held quarterly to brainstorm and generate improvement ideas are essential to achieving excellence. The Customer Care Teams themselves should be encouraged and empowered to continuously seek out Best Practice, to review and improve.
Achieving Customer Service Excellence is a continuous process that should be energetically pursued by all in the Organisation.
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